Bill C-10 (Historical)
Income Tax Amendments Act, 2006
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
Jim Flaherty Conservative
Not active, as of Dec. 4, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
Part 1 of the enactment enacts, in accordance with proposals announced in the 1999 budget, amendments to the provisions of the Income Tax Act governing the taxation of non-resident trusts and their beneficiaries and of Canadian taxpayers who hold interests in foreign investment entities.
Part 2 enacts various technical amendments that were included in Part 1 of a discussion draft entitled Legislative Proposals and Draft Regulations Relating to Income Tax released for consultation by the Minister of Finance on February 27, 2004. Most of these amendments are relieving in nature, and others correct technical deficiencies in the Act. For example, Part 2 enacts amendments
– to implement various technical amendments to qualified investments for deferred income plans,
– to clarify that certain government payments received in lieu of employment insurance are treated the same as employment insurance for income tax purposes,
– to extend the existing non-resident withholding tax exemption for aircraft to certain air navigation equipment and related computer software,
– to allow public corporations to return paid-up-capital arising from transactions outside the ordinary course of business, without generating a deemed dividend,
– to confirm an income tax exemption for corporations owned by a municipal or public body performing a function of government in Canada, and
– to provide that input tax credits received under the Quebec Sales Tax system are treated for income tax purposes in the same way as input tax credits received under the GST.
Further, Part 2 enacts provisions to implement announcements made by the Minister of Finance
– on September 18, 2001, limiting the tax shelter benefits to a taxpayer who acquires the future business income of another person,
– on October 7, 2003, to ensure that payments received for agreeing not to compete are taxable,
– on November 14, 2003, to simplify and better target the tax incentives for certified Canadian films,
– on December 5, 2003, to limit the tax benefits of charitable donations made under certain tax shelter and other gifting arrangements, and
– on November 17, 2005, relating to the cost of property acquired in certain option and similar transactions.
Part 3 deals with provisions of the Act that are not opened up in Parts 1 and 2 in which the following private law concepts are used: right and interest, real and personal property, life estate and remainder interest, tangible and intangible property and joint and several liability. It enacts amendments to ensure that those provisions are bijural, that is that they reflect both the common law and the civil law in both linguistic versions. Similar amendments are made in Parts 1 and 2 to ensure that any provision of the Act enacted by those Parts are also bijural.
November 5th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
Director, Tax Legislation, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
November 5th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
February 28th, 2013 / 8:55 a.m.
Ted Cook Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Certainly. With respect to the bill, probably the best way to provide an overview is to just briefly go through the parts.
Part 1 of the bill relates to non-resident trusts and foreign investment entities, or offshore investment funds. This is, in some sense, a carry-over of measures that were first introduced in the House back in 2006 and 2007, as part of prior Bill C-10. They have been significantly revised as a result of an announcement in budget 2010 and subject to further consultation after budget 2010.
If there are particular questions, perhaps we can deal with them separately.
Parts 2 and 3 deal with amendments to the foreign affiliate and foreign accrual property income regime of Canada. It's a regime dealing with income earned by subsidiaries, loosely speaking, of corporations and other taxpayers resident in Canada. My colleague, Mr. Porter will speak to part 3. I think he can give a bit of an overview of Canada's foreign affiliate system and how the hybrid surplus rules, which are encapsulated in part 3, function. These measures were not part of Bill C-10 so this would be the first time they have been before the House.
Part 4 contains bijuralism measures, which are measures that make amendments to the Income Tax Act to make sure that it properly reflects both common law and civil code concepts mostly with respect to property and property rights. These are amendments that were included in Bill C-10. They are the result of a Department of Justice study.
Part 5 is the major portion of the bill. It contains the remaining portions of Bill C-10, which were introduced in Parliament, as I mentioned, in 2006 and 2007 and died on the order paper both times.
As well, I would note that part 5 includes a number of additional measures—and we may get a chance to speak to them if I can anticipate another question from Ms. Nash—that relate to technical packages that the Department of Finance has released post-2007-08, partly in response to the Auditor General's report. Obviously the decision to release technical packages and include them in the bill is the Minister of Finance's, but the Department of Finance has been working on preparing technical packages.
It also includes a number of previously announced measures, both measures that were included in budget 2010, such as foreign tax credit generator measures, rules with respect to specified leasing properties, SIFT loss conversions and trading—and again, maybe we can speak to those more directly—and a number of miscellaneous previously announced measures.
Part 5 also contains three unannounced measures, very small, relating to income allocation for airlines, short-term residents in Canada and departure tax, and also a measure related to labour-sponsored venture capital corporations.
Parts 6 and 7 relate to GST and federal-provincial arrangements with respect to taxes.
Finally, part 8 just provides coordinating amendments that were necessary because the bill was tabled at the same time that there was a budget implementation act before the House.
That's just a very brief overview of the contents of the bill.
Technical Tax Amendments Act, 2012
February 15th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to weigh in, for a few moments anyway, on Bill C-48. I commend the member for Brossard—La Prairie, not only for his speech but also for the incredibly valuable work he performed as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. Not to put too fine a point on it, he is a brilliant deputé and made an important contribution. I know that he will make a similar type of contribution on the justice committee, where he is now focusing his attention.
We are dealing with a bill that is nearly a thousand pages long. As others have said, it deals with a huge number of needed amendments that have been outstanding for nearly 15 years. They were announced but were not enacted in legislation, creating great confusion and problems for tax practitioners and individual Canadians.
The point made by one of the groups we spoke to, and that I am sure he heard from, Blakes, was that as a result of allowing this backlog of amendments to build up, the government has increased the complexity of the tax system. That flies in the face of everything the government has claimed it stands for as it relates to things such as reducing red tape and simplifying the tax system to make it easily accessible and understood by Canadians. That is another example of how the government tells Canadians one thing and goes ahead and does something else.
We heard from other members of this caucus that the Auditor General, in 2009, reported to the House that there were upwards of 400 tax amendments that had been proclaimed and were being carried forward but they had not been codified and enacted in legislation. That was creating a problem, a sense of confusion and an added level of complexity. He said it was simply bad practice and was not the way to run something as technical and important as the tax system under the finance acts.
Bill C-48, I understand, deals with about half of those. It does not deal with the additional ones that have been announced by the government since 2009. Therefore, even though we are dealing with a piece of legislation that is 1000 pages long and is extraordinarily complex, we will not have time to go through it in the kind of detail with which we probably should go through it. The government is still not dealing with all the changes in the tax system that have been enacted already but that have yet to be codified.
That is why the experts, such as the Certified General Accountants-Canada and the Auditor General, have said it is so important. We have comments from Thomas McDonnell, from Thorsteinssons LLP tax lawyers, and others who have said it is important to make sure that, for the tax changes that are proposed, announced and put in place by the Minister of Finance or the government, whether at budget time or at other times during the year, the government should be introducing legislation annually in the House to make sure that happens.
In 2007 the Conservatives introduced Bill C-10, which was an attempt to try to catch up to the backlog. Members will know that in 2008, they pulled the plug, because they felt that they might be able to get a majority government at the time. Even though they were flying in the face of fixed-term legislation that the Prime Minister himself lauded, they went to the polls in the fall of 2008. As a result, Bill C-10 died on the order paper.
The point is that they should not be waiting years to take care of business that should be looked after on an annual basis. It would give legislators here and experts across the country an opportunity to take a small chunk of legislation and amendments and to have a full discussion about their implications. That would be a sign of good governance.
If Parliament were up to date on those kinds of legislative changes, and the government of the day decided to prorogue the House or call an election or whatever, we would only be dealing with one year of changes next time around and would not be participating in a buildup of a backlog.
As everyone who knows about this system has said, it is extraordinarily complex. Allowing this backlog to build and bringing in amendments this way to an extraordinarily technical piece of legislation of almost 1,000 pages does not provide the clarity and opportunity for simplifying the tax system that we should be looking for. It is in the interest of all Canadians.
Since my time is winding down, I will make three points. I have said already that the bill is extremely technical. New Democrats think it does not need to be so technical.
In respect of good governance and legislative management, it should be done on an annual basis. Let me be clear that we on this side believe in cracking down on both tax avoidance and tax evasion while ensuring the integrity of our tax system. We support these changes, but we want to ensure that they happen on a more manageable basis.
This is an omnibus bill of sorts, but as opposed to Bills C-45 and C-38, it does not bring 60 pieces of legislation together with nothing that ties them together. It deals with changes to closely related pieces of legislation.
Finally, the massive size of this bill demonstrates that there is still work to be done in getting technical changes legislated in a timely fashion. As I have said and will reiterate, failing to do so hurts the business community. It makes it difficult for proper evaluation by Parliament. Ultimately, it impacts the economy of this country and individual Canadians who are trying to work with an increasingly complex tax system as they go about their business and their daily lives making sure they provide for themselves and their families and build stronger communities and a stronger country.
That is our goal. Those are the measures we would like to see the government move forward with.
We will be supporting the legislation. I urge the government to ensure that this is done on an annual basis from here on in.
Opposition Motion—Representation in Parliament
Business of Supply
March 3rd, 2011 / 4 p.m.
Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand here today and join in this very important debate coming from my colleague and friend from Hamilton Centre, talking about two elements of democratic reform.
The first obviously is the one we have been discussing for many months and, actually, for many years, and that is democratic reform of the Senate. The NDP's position is to abolish the Senate.
I will be concentrating all of my remarks on the first part of the opposition day motion that deals with Senate reform, as opposed to the latter part of the opposition day motion on proportional representation. Due to the limited time that I have before me, I will try to concentrate my remarks only on the Senate.
I should also say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Calgary East.
Let me first assure my colleagues, particularly on the NDP side, that I share with them a lot of the frustrations that they seem to be expressing today about Canada's Senate. In fact, I can assure my colleagues that several years ago, before I was elected to Parliament, I completely shared their view that the Senate should be abolished. At that point in time in my view, the Senate was irrelevant, useless and served no useful purpose for Canadians.
However, since I have been elected and have been in this House since 2004, I have changed my mind 100%. I have seen the good work that the Senate can perform. I would also point out that throughout the western world and the democratic nations of the world, bicameralism, which is to say federal institutions having two legislative bodies, is quite common. The U.S., Germany, Australia, and many others have a similar situation to ours. It is there for a reason. It is there to observe and give sober second thought to the legislative process. In other words, it is a legislative review body. It is also a review body that gives careful consideration to policy.
Even though I had great and grave doubts about the Senate in years past, since I have been in Parliament I have seen on many occasions the work that the Senate has done, both in terms of legislative review and on proactive policy considerations, presenting papers for not only this House and our consideration but also for Canadians as a whole. Without getting into an ideological debate about whether the Senate should be a part of our constitution and our legislative process, I would suggest that we will always agree to disagree on that very point.
However, there are two elements to democratic reform within the Senate that I believe should be discussed. I welcome the debate we have before us today. The first is term limits. One of the most unsavoury aspects of the Senate is the fact that senators can be appointed and then serve for up to 45 years. These would be unelected and, some would suggest, unaccountable senators remaining in their positions for 45 years. I do not think by anyone's definition that is palpable. Canadians would not agree with the notion that someone can be appointed to a body and remain in that position for up to 45 years with literally no oversight.
Yes, there are times when senators can be removed with cause, whether they are charged and convicted of a criminal offence, whether their attendance is such that they have not proven their worth in the Senate, but generally speaking, senators can stay in their unelected positions for up to 45 years.
That is why we brought forward Bill C-10 on Senate term limits. Our position is that there should be a finite number of years that senators serve in the upper chamber. Forty-five years is clearly too long a period of time. We believe that eight years is the proper period of time.
Why eight years? Obviously it would take new senators a bit of time to become acclimatized to their new position, their new job, to learn the ropes so to speak. However, after a year or two, senators can properly function in the upper chamber. The most important part of a Senate term limit of eight years is that after eight years, senators have probably served their purpose to the maximum of their abilities. If not, at the very least we can look at renewal within the Senate.
What angers and offends Canadians more than anything else is to see senators who have served in the same position for 10, 20, 30, 40 years and beyond, paying little recognition to Canadians' true feelings. I believe that if senators were confined to a term limit of eight years, they would know that they had a job to do and that they had to get it done in a relatively short period of time.
I do not think there would be any argument that there should be a term limit put on senators. Whether it is eight years, twelve years or more, is open for debate. That debate would be extremely worthwhile.
I note that the former Liberal leader at one time said that he was in favour of term limits for senators. He was not sure whether eight years was the proper term. He suggested at one time 15 years and then 12 years. Nonetheless, he was a strong supporter of term limits. I am pleased to see that at least some in the Liberal Party agree with us that there should be term limits.
I would ask my friends in the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to also engage in this debate and hopefully come to the realization that if the Senate is here to stay, and I suggest it will be, then we should take a look at meaningful reform from within.
The NDP's suggestion that the Senate be abolished will probably be something that we will never see. It would never happen because to do that we would have to open up constitutional talks and there is no appetite in Canada, from the Canadians I have spoken with from coast to coast, to reopen the Constitution. We have seen the problems of the Meech Lake accord and the problems of other constitutional talks. There is simply no appetite for constitutional reform at that level.
I suggest that Bill C-10 would allow change and reform to the Senate without having to open up the constitutional talks again. The way we have drafted the legislation would allow reforms to be enacted with the approval of this House.
If the NDP members are truly sincere in their belief that there needs to be reform in Parliament, knowing that the constitutional talks would probably never occur, at least not in my lifetime, on Senate reform they should welcome the opportunity to try and enact positive change. In other words, rather than strictly abolishing the Senate, let us grasp the opportunity to make change for an institution that will be with us for the foreseeable future. I would suggest the same thing happen with senatorial appointments.
Right now we have a system where all Senate appointments are strictly that; appointments rather than elections. If we want to have a truly elected Senate, that would require opening up the Constitution. That will not happen. We do not want that to happen at this point in time. Canadians do not want that to happen.
What we have done, through the Senate, is introduce Bill S-8, Senatorial Selection Act. That, in a nutshell, would allow provinces to have elections for Senate nominees. Those nominees would then be presented to the prime minister of the day and that prime minister would be required to give consideration to those Senate nominees. I would also suggest that no prime minister, regardless of political affiliation, would take those suggestions from the provinces lightly. If a sitting prime minister decided not to appoint a senator who had been recommended and elected from a province, he would do so at his political peril.
These are two real changes that can be made to the Senate, as we speak. They can be made internally in Parliament, without having to reopen constitutional discussions and talks. They would enact real reform within the Senate. It is a set of concerns that all members should take very seriously.
Opposition Motion—Representation in Parliament
Business of Supply
March 3rd, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that the example I gave was pertaining to Bill C-10 in the 39th Parliament where there was an omnibus legislation and there was one parcel in the bill that basically would have given the Crown, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the authority to exercise censorship in moviemaking in this country and essentially could have destroyed the entire apparatus we have built up over the years for that industry.
The government should have pointed these things out when it presented its legislation. It did not. Nobody on the opposition side saw that. It was picked up in the Senate and stopped by the Senate. If it had not been stopped I would argue that I do not think that the government would have introduced legislation to change that. Therefore, we would have been stuck with a system that the majority in this House did not want and that the Senate at the time did not want. I said that at that time the Senate saved the day.
There are a number of examples along those lines where it has corrected legislation, where it has picked up things that the House missed. Perhaps down the road there may be another method used than the Senate, but in a bicameral system the notion of checks and balances is imperative. I recognize that some days it may not work. I understand that if we were to end up with a majority Conservative government in the House and a Conservative majority in the Senate, the checks and balances would go out the door. However, most times it does seem to work.
If we are to get rid of the Senate, which is something that the motion put forward by the member calls for, I would rather see something in its stead before we get rid of it. That is why--
Motions in amendment
Budget Implementation Act, 2009
March 2nd, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON
Mr. Speaker, at this stage in considering Bill C-10, we are looking at amendments proposed and discussed earlier. The particular focus of these amendments relates to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which is contained in part 7 of the bill.
As I mentioned in some questions and comments earlier, this bill is very much about the economy. In fact, everything is about the economy. The amendments proposed now, while arguably rational, were or are calculated to distract from the economic aspects of this bill.
I will admit that I too had prepared amendments in relation to this particular aspect, and to some other aspects, of this bill. I did not proceed with them on the order paper, because my party is of the view that the economy and Canadians who are now at financial risk in the economy deserve greater attention from all of us in the House than do some of the more technical aspects of this bill.
However, in discussing these amendments, I want the record to show that I have some degree of discomfort with the methodology adopted by the government in its decision to include as part of the stimulus package amendments to this very old piece of federal legislation.
It is there for very good reasons. The Navigable Waters Protection Act assures federal jurisdiction for shipping on our navigable waters, an area that continues to be of huge importance to us. These changes are arguably needed in the act, but why has the government chosen a stimulus package and placed technical amendments in the updating of a very old statute in a bill like this?
There actually is a reason, and I think I can see it. It is that the government has seen that there may be some infrastructure investment in bridges, wharves, canals, navigation buoys, levees, dams, docks and other types of structures. These could be the targets of infrastructure spending. Some of the provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act might delay or stall the investments in these works.
There are two aspects to this piggybacking of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the stimulus package: the measures being put forward for adoption may arguably speed up investment, but they may directly or indirectly reduce the potential for protection of aspects of our navigable waters. Most of us around this place will have an eye for that, and we understand it. It is not as if we do not have environmental protection legislation out there. It is not as if we do not have real scientists, engineers and architects preparing this stuff. However, at the end of the day it is very important that we not lose sight of the proper way of doing things with respect to the environment, with respect to access of our citizens to these waters and with respect to the recreation industry. A lot us have received information from the Canadian Rivers Network. That perspective is very legitimate.
The policy aspect of a minister doing end runs around environmental protection legislation and other legislation that might provide for the public interest but that might also delay investment in a stimulus package is a very important consideration. We are not inviting our government here to be stupid, but we are nervous that the legislation will provide some fast-tracking that places the public interest at risk.
In addition to that, there are clauses in the bill that have actually removed the right of Parliament to review the government and ministerial activity after it has taken place. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the government has done this. We may regard this as just technical, but I do not regard it as technical.
There are actually seven clauses in the bill. I will put them on the record right now: clauses 244, 275, 279, 287, 292, 328 and 453. Each of those clauses purports to remove from Parliamentary scrutiny the administrative regulatory action of a government minister or the governor in council. Some of those involve the Navigable Waters Protection Act and other provisions involve other aspect of legislation in the stimulus package. That is simply unacceptable.
Some may say that the impact was inadvertent because the real purpose of putting these provisions in the bill was to avoid the slowing down by the regulatory process at the front end, the prepublication, the consultation, et cetera. Not only is the government trying to remove that pre-enactment scrutiny but it also has the impact of preventing Parliament from reviewing the regulatory actions to begin with, and that involves a whole slew of regulatory activity, which includes orders and exemptions, certificates, rules and directions.
Bill C-10, in these clauses, authorizes either the governor in council or ministers to take these acts and then says to Parliament that these are not statutory instruments and it cannot look at them after. That is absolutely wrong.
It is more than likely that someone from the other place will read some of the debate and more than likely that someone in the other place, that is the Senate, may take an interest in this issue. But at some point, these particular Bill C-10 enactments, including these provisions involving the Navigable Waters Protection Act, will have to be turned around. They will have to be fixed.
I cannot continue comfortably here in the House without trying to do something to fix this. It is now a question of a number of members in the House holding their noses while we pass this economic stimulus package. I cannot stress enough the stupidity of tagging onto economic stimulus legislation a whole lot of contraband in the back of the ambulance. It is not the right place to do it.
I recall another bill in a previous Parliament, also Bill C-10 coincidentally, where, in making a change to the Income Tax Act, this particular government thought it might want to test the waters on what many regarded as a censorship issue. That was just as dumb. We should not be using finance and economic stimulus legislative enactments to deal with other issues like updating the Navigable Waters Protection Act. This should happen in a piece of stand alone legislation.
The bill also has amendments involving the Competition Act. Those amendments should also be stand-alone legislation so the House can truly sink its teeth into it. The problem now is, and I hope Canadians realize it, that we have one bill with all of this in it. The main thrust of the bill is economic stimulus, but we have all of these other add-ons in the back of the truck and a lot of these add-ons, we do not like.
The amendments here are, in part, calculated to get rid of some of that extra baggage, but we are in a situation now, if we are to get the stimulus package moneys through Parliament, authorized, out on the street and creating jobs, we have to pass the bill the way it is now. I regret that, but that is a political reality.
August 26th, 2008 / 2 p.m.
Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think it's a question of credibility. It's not credible for a Prime Minister and for this member opposite, Mr. Del Mastro, to suggest over and over that their legislation was successfully passed through the parliamentary session that ended in June and then, three months later, when Parliament is not sitting, to say that Parliament is dysfunctional and we have to ditch a piece of legislation that was implemented by this government.
So I think it's about credibility. But let me get back to the question of the arts. That's also a matter of credibility. You will recall that over the years the party opposite and its predecessor, the Reform Party, frequently made a point of calling for withdrawal of the federal government from the arts sector. You will recall that it was in the party platform of some of the members opposite that the CBC should be privatized, that it should be sold. When they saw that this didn't fly with the Canadian public, they compromised and said that only CBC Television should be sold and we would keep CBC Radio. Then, when they saw that didn't fly, they said they would lay off the CBC for a while but they wouldn't pay much heed to the report that this committee worked so hard on and released in June or May.
So it's a question of credibility. I'm glad my colleague Andy Scott took the time to travel from Fredericton to be here today and share his corporate memory with us. I'm pleased he reminded us that when the Liberal government had to deal with the massive deficit—$42 billion—left by a previous Conservative government, the party opposite thought we were moving too slow on arts cuts. I didn't know that, and I thank the member for bringing it up.
Mr. Del Mastro said that life is about change, that the world is always changing. I thank him for that platitude. I've heard it said that the government loves heritage—it's living art that it's afraid of, because that can be subversive. We've seen the government's reaction with Bill C-10.
Juxtaposed with all of these previous statements is a kind of Orwellian dialogue. They strike a “stand up for Canada” pose, while devolving as much as possible. There used to be a time when an MP like me could promote a municipal infrastructure project at the federal level. The federal government had some say as a third party in these expenditure plans. But the federal government is washing its hands of that and not taking its responsibility.
So we stand up for Canada while we devolve responsibility. We say, in that typical Orwellian fashion, that dismantling a program is not a cut. We're just redistributing. If we're redistributing, let's see what we're redistributing towards. Yes, festivals are important. Absolutely, they're important. We remember that the opposition was pushing the government hard to fund festivals in Quebec and elsewhere. They're important, but so is sending artists abroad who represent the cutting edge in art. That's important too.
But I remember that when we were in government, every time a contingent of artists went abroad the Conservative opposition was quite upset. It was a wasteful expenditure. How dare we send artists abroad, maybe put them up in a hotel, and let them visit a Canadian embassy somewhere. That was a scandal at the time. I sat on the government operations committee and watched the Conservative Party attack attempts to send artists abroad to showcase Canada. It wasn't a good idea then. Today they say, “Well, we're not so against touring programs”, yet they cut them.
I remember, Mr. Chair--and I believe you were an elected member then--when we dealt with the second phase of copyright reform. I wasn't a member myself; I was an assistant to the chair of the committee at the time, you will recall. The Conservative Party wasn't in favour of neighbouring rights, if I recall correctly. The big push at the time was to bring in neighbouring rights so the royalties would flow not only to creators or writers of music, but performers. I remember that the Conservative opposition was against that.
Speaking of copyright, as we all know, the Conservative government is committed to seeing that bill dealt with in the industry committee, not in the committee that is most concerned about arts and culture in this Parliament.
Arts and Culture
June 19th, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC
Mr. Speaker, I want to present a petition from various signatories calling on Parliament to staunchly defend Canadian artistic and cultural expression and to rescind any provisions of Bill C-10 which allow the government to censor film and video production in Canada and to ensure that the government has in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.
June 16th, 2008 / 3:15 p.m.
Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON
Mr. Speaker, finally, I am pleased to table a petition that is signed by residents of Ontario and British Columbia who are concerned about the role of the Minister of Canadian Heritage in promoting and defending Canadian cultural and artistic freedom. They believe that there should be no ability for the government, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, any office of government or government official to make subjective judgments concerning artistic content that limit the freedom of expression.
The petitioners call on Parliament to staunchly defend Canadian artistic and cultural expression, to rescind any provisions of Bill C-10 which allow the government to censor film and video production in Canada, and to ensure that the government has in place subjective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.
Canadian Multiculturalism Act
Private Members' Business
June 16th, 2008 / 11:20 a.m.
Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond briefly—since I have yet to give my speech—to the criticism of the Bloc's approach to Bill C-505 as a bit clumsy and heavy-handed.
I understand the NDP's vision, since its members are centralists. They have a centralist vision of Canada. I understand when we hear about the Couture-Cullen agreement. Nevertheless, people who decide to immigrate to Quebec do so in the context of the Canadian nation. Parliament has recognized the Quebec nation. It must also be understood that our distinct society needs all of the tools available to develop and that mixed messages are being sent to the immigrants who choose Quebec, because of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act as well as other acts. Is it not Canadian citizenship that one obtains when one chooses Quebec or any other province? So, does this Parliament really want to recognize the Quebec nation, with all that that entails? That is where we differ.
As for Bill C-505 on the ideology of multiculturalism, there has been endless debate since the concept was introduced in a bill by Trudeau in 1970 and in the legislation that followed in 1988. For many Quebec nationalists, this is one way of shifting the balance of power in Canada. Earlier, we heard our hon. Liberal colleague say that, thanks to section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everything is just fine and that it shows an openness towards immigrants. This would seem to suggest that Quebeckers are not open to immigration. On the contrary, but their approach is very different and is based much more on interculturalism.
Does Canada really protect and accept cultural communities? Is that the goal of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act? In his book Selling Illusions, Neil Bissoondath responds to such questions by indicating that Canadian multicultural ideology pigeonholes cultures into dusty stereotypes and politically-driven clichés, but obstructs the creative possibilities that arise when diverse groups meet.
Adopting the vision of multiculturalism also means adopting the vision of a Canadian nation governed by an anglophone majority. I will come back to the vision that comes with that approach to multiculturalism later on. It is aimed precisely at minimizing our francophone society in Quebec and providing it with fewer tools.
For many nationalists, it is a way of changing the balance of power in Canada at the expense of the francophone community. The Quebec vision goes against that vision of multiculturalism designed to encourage minority groups to preserve and perpetuate their culture, as well as to promote these differences within Canadian institutions. So, in a way, the concept of multiculturalism promotes the Canadian nation, and the political discourse backs up this ideology.
One can read all that in a booklet published by the federal government.
Canada is populated by people who have come from every part of the world. Through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, the government encourages Canadians to take pride in their language, religion and heritage and to keep their customs and traditions, as long as they don’t break Canadian laws.
Encouraging Canadians to take pride in their language, religion and heritage is a one-track approach and it is a problem in Quebec. Why? Because multiculturalism rejects the idea of a common culture by encouraging multiple cultures to coexist. Although it is defined as a model for integrating newcomers, in reality it promotes peaceful coexistence.
Concerned that multiculturalism divides society into a multitude of solitudes, Quebec has always deplored the Canadian approach, especially since it trivializes Quebec's position within Canada and refutes the existence of the Quebec nation. In 1971, Robert Bourassa, Premier of Quebec, stated in a letter to Pierre Elliott Trudeau: “—that notion hardly seems compatible with Quebec's reality—".
Quebec has adopted interculturalism as the model for integration. It requires immigrants to learn French as the common language. With the multiculturalism approach, not even a mention is made of the existence of a nation defined as the Quebec nation, the Charter of the French Language or French as the common language.
I would like to digress from my speech for a moment. With regard to the bilingualism approach, I am reminded of when I was a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and we went on a tour regarding the Broadcasting Act. I remember a certain individual who belonged to a cultural community, had become Canadian and said he was bilingual: he spoke English and his language of origin. This reaction is quite understandable because, according to multiculturalism, this person must retain his language and his culture. I can understand that. However, it is evident that we are sending mixed messages that are very dissimilar. This person honestly believed that he was bilingual, because that was his definition of Canadian bilingualism. That is not at all the intent of multiculturalism.
In other words, unlike the Canadian approach, which tends to value diversity, the Quebec approach supports integration through the learning of the French language—the official and common language of its citizens—and adherence to a set of fundamental values. Accordingly, the Quebec department of immigration and cultural communities states on its website:
An intercultural society's challenge is a collective one: to ensure harmony by maintaining and adopting the values and principles of action that unite all citizens.
I would like to come back to what a Liberal Party colleague said earlier when he referred us to section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section is at odds with Quebec's wishes and vision for itself. What we have here are two different visions of how to integrate cultural communities, and we are well aware of the magnitude of the challenge.
Today we are discussing a Bloc Québécois bill that seeks to exempt Quebec from the policy underlying the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. I remember that even in 1998, when I was on the Canadian heritage committee, the Bloc Québécois opposed the vision set out in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
I know that I will not have time to say everything I planned on today, but I would like to speak about the Quebec nation. It is often said that the Quebec nation has been recognized, but what Quebec nation has been recognized if the tools are not there to fully develop it socially and economically?
As Prime Minister Trudeau hoped in 1970 when he established this law, later amended in 1988, the ideology behind multiculturalism was to reduce the influence of an evolving nation. Since the 17th century, this nation has often been described as a distinct nation in search of its own definition of what constituted a Quebec society on North American soil.
Unfortunately, my time is nearly over. I could have raised many other points to show that this House's recognition of the Quebec nation was nothing but an empty shell. In reality, this vision of Quebec is being denied in a number of areas. For example, there is Bill C-10 concerning financial support for films that are in line with public policy. What is public policy for the Conservative government?
We could also wonder about Bill C-484, which would give legal status to a fetus and which could drastically change the entire—
Canada Elections Act
June 13th, 2008 / 1 p.m.
David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans).
There are aspects of the bill which I support. In fact, when it returned from committee, the bill had been amended in such a fashion that I might have been unable to support it at third reading. Unfortunately, the government, with the help of the NDP, undid three very sensible amendments which would have improved the bill. It remains a mystery to us why the NDP members would want to sidle up with the Reform Conservative movement in Canada today. I still think that they have to justify to their supporters and Canadians at large why they might undermine this progressive piece of legislation.
As a result of those amendments and the NDP support of the government, and for many reasons, I will not be able to give Bill C-29 my support on the vote at third reading.
The majority of the bill comes from recommendations in a report from the Chief Electoral Officer to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. That, by the way, would be the same Chief Electoral Officer, a highly accomplished lifetime public servant whom the government derided because of its own legislation dealing with veiled voting. However, we will leave that for another debate.
In that report the Chief Electoral Officers found that when loans are given to a political candidate by a person who is not regularly in the business of lending money, it can be perceived by some as a means to influence the political process with money. The report made a series of recommendations to end this perception. All of us, I think, want to see that perception eliminated in Canadian society. We want to drive up trust in our democratic institutions and processes, not drive it down.
One such recommendation was to ensure that all loans granted to a candidate were signed at the going commercial lending rate. A second was to establish a limit on loans made by individuals that would be equal to their annual political contribution amount. If we look at the year 2007, for example, that amount was $1,100. These measures are contained in Bill C-29.
The bill will also ensure that corporations and unions are prevented from making loans to political candidates and parties, just as they have been prevented from making campaign contributions, a theme I will come back to in a moment.
Bill C-29 will ensure if an individual lends and donates money to any candidate that the sum total of his or her contributions and loans will count toward his or her maximum. For instance, a person will not be able to make a $1,000 loan and a $1,000 donation.
Yet another important recommendation made by the Chief Electoral Officer was that the information surrounding any loans be made public. Why? In order to mitigate the chances of a perceived conflict of interest, something that all of us as parliamentarians must fight against, again with the higher public interest in mind, that is, to drive up trust in democratic institutions and the democratic processes that bring us here.
According to the report, the information to be disclosed should include the identity of the lender, the interest rate, and a repayment schedule for the loan, over what period of time, how much, with a beginning, a middle and an end to the schedule. The reason it is important to disclose this type of information throughout a campaign is that after a vote, while the information may be telling, it comes too late to help a voter make an informed decision about which candidate he or she may choose to support or not.
I can support this measure in Bill C-29. It is the right thing to do.
In fact, for Canadians watching or reading Hansard at some point, let me take a moment to remind them it is the Liberal Party of Canada that was well ahead of the curve on this issue.
During the last Liberal leadership race, our leadership candidates went way above and beyond the call of duty to disclose this type of information. It is an excellent idea. I strongly believe that the other parties in the House should be brought under the same type and level of scrutiny that the Liberal Party of Canada has voluntarily adopted.
We have heard from numerous speakers this afternoon and throughout this debate specifically about the Prime Minister. It is revealing. It is more than interesting. It is not somewhat passing that the Prime Minister has not yet revealed the names of the people and organizations that contributed to his leadership campaign in 2002. Why? Why would a leadership candidate not want to reveal the people and organizations supporting, in this case, his leadership bid? This kind of secrecy is exactly what leads many Canadians to become distrustful of the political process.
Who exactly, they might ask, put the Prime Minister at the helm of the Conservative Party? Who? Who wrote the cheques? Which Conservative members? Was it the big oil companies? An objective Canadian might ask, is this why the Prime Minister continues to deny the existence of climate change? When faced with one of the greatest ecological threats of our time, in the wake of the loss of 2,500 of the highest paying jobs in the manufacturing sector in Canada, how does the Prime Minister respond? How does he respond to the climate change crisis facing the planet? With a talking oil stain that tells Canadians there is no point in trying to curb our greenhouse gas emissions.
It is actually encouraging. I encourage the Prime Minister and his party to pursue exactly those kinds of tactics. I encourage him to run those advertisements at every gas pump in every service station in the country. Why? Because Canadians would then see that the response to the climate change crisis by the Prime Minister is a cartoon character. I ask him to please go forward in that regard and continue to proliferate those kinds of race to the bottom tactics.
Was he funded, for example, by groups like Charles McVety's at the Canada Christian College, who was recently in Ottawa to help the government push through Bill C-10? That bill would give the Conservative government the right to censor Canadian films based on whatever they seem to find offensive.
Or is it the same Charles McVety who actually cybersquatted on over 40 MPs websites, including my own? Having seized it, he was confronted by me, and was shamed into actually transferring mine back to me and the others back to the other members from all sides of the House, all parties? Dr. McVety, whatever his doctorate might be in, was opposed to the notion of same sex civil marriage and he used cyber theft and cybersquatting as his modus operandi to achieve his objectives. Is this the group that funded the Prime Minister's leadership bid?
We should know those things. If either of these are the case, I believe that Canadians deserve an answer. They have a right to know. I encourage my colleagues on the Conservative side of the House to urge their leader to disclose those contributions as quickly as possible.
While they are at it, why do they not ask the Minister of National Defence which sole contributor paid off up to half a million dollars of his leadership debt. One cheque, one donor, the amount has never been disclosed. The Minister of National Defence has never come clean with Canadians.
It is no surprise that some of the measures we find in this bill are supported by the Conservatives.
Those are two examples and there may be more. That is exactly the kind of transparency the House should be seeking to increase, not decrease, to drive up trust in the democratic institutions and the processes that brought us here.
I understand that members in the Conservative Party are not allowed to question their leader or even to express their own ideas, failing which we see the kind of despicable content which has emerged in the last 48 hours from the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. On that note, we know the apology is not enough. It is not enough because it is not the first time.
This is about restoring the faith of Canadians in the democratic process. Over the past five years the Liberal Party has done tremendous work, I believe, to help restore faith. It was in 2003 that the previous Liberal government introduced the very first annual limits on individual contributions to a political party and to our candidates. In that same bill we also banned contributions from corporations and unions to political parties. That is progressive. Those changes stand today as the most significant ones that have been made to political financing at the federal level in decades. We went further.
In 2006 the maximum contribution amounts were lowered even further. They are now tied to the rate of inflation and in theory should rise slightly each year. I say “in theory” because we have yet to see if Canada's Minister of Finance will be able to steer the economy well enough to meet targeted inflation rates. Given his past behaviour at Queen's Park and his performance in the Ontario government, Canadians are of course deeply suspicious of an individual who increases provincial debt by $28 billion and leaves a $5.6 billion deficit in Canada's largest province.
Nevertheless, we did support lowering those maximums, which brings me to the part of my speech where I have to raise my concerns about this bill. There is a danger that sometimes we, as legislators, in our zeal to make things better, often make things worse through a variety of unintended consequences.
This bill, unfortunately, finds itself well across the line of what is needed in order to make things better. To their credit, the members from all sides of the House who studied the bill at committee stage tried to make the bill better. At least in this case it was not one of the six standing committees that have been filibustered, blocked, toyed with and brought into disrepute by the conduct of Conservative members, most recently of course in a number of standing committees with respect to their cheap and dishonest talk about carbon pricing.
The members who studied the bill did try to make the bill better. There were, however, three amendments made at committee which the government did not agree with and which were eliminated at report stage, again with the help of the NDP. It is a shame because it was widely recognized that these amendments would have improved the bill.
One such amendment has to do with who is liable for loans that go unpaid. The Bloc and the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs were concerned that the original wording of the bill could have made political parties responsible for loans that their candidates took without even knowing that their candidates had taken those loans. Let me give an example.
The local candidate takes out a $30,000 loan to finance his campaign. He does not inform the central Conservative Party that he is doing this. The central party, however, is now responsible for that loan should the candidate not win and declare bankruptcy. That is right; a political party would not have authorized the loan, would have had no knowledge of the loan, yet it would be required to assume liability for the loan if the candidate declared bankruptcy.
I do not think this is right. I actually do not even think it is legal, particularly when we consider that there are parties not represented in this House and for whom a $30,000 debt is an extremely high sum of money to be stuck with through no fault of their own. In short, this is not good for democracy. It does not give rise to the possibility of new political parties, for example.
That brings me to my last point. It is about who will be disenfranchised by Bill C-29. Every single politician cuts his or her teeth in politics by taking a chance and running for office. From a local councillor to a federal cabinet minister, we all start that way; everyone except, of course, for the Minister of Public Works, whom the Prime Minister appointed to the Senate and who, in his own words, did not feel like running for office.
I will admit that in mounting a campaign for office some people will have advantages. They might have a recognizable name or face because of their past activities. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does give them an early advantage in getting the early stage donations that are so crucial to a candidacy.
Others come to politics with a good amount of money in their bank accounts. That is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Any political bodies should be represented by a broad spectrum of the citizens who vote them there. The advantage that these types of candidates will have, however, is that it will be far easier for them to secure loans from a financial institution to get their candidacy up and running. If they have a big house or other assets to use as collateral against a loan, the banks will be all too willing to give them that loan.
Banks and financial institutions, of course, are the only places where federal political candidates will be allowed to secure loans for over $1,100 if Bill C-29 passes. That would be for a nomination campaign, a leadership campaign or an election campaign.
Then there is a third type of politician, one who runs for office without a lot of face recognition and without the benefit of having much wealth tucked away. These politicians run because they want to make a difference. They believe their ideas can help to shape the national debate.
These are the candidates who would be disenfranchised by the bill. They do not have the face recognition needed to get a lot of early stage donations. They might not have the assets for a bank to give them a starter loan. In the case of a nomination battle for a riding, this could easily be the difference between launching a winning campaign and losing one.
What about family and friends? Why can family and friends not support early funding start-up for nomination battles? This is exactly what has happened, for example, in our IT sector, where so much of our IT success has come from individuals with robust ideas who have drawn from family, friends, contacts and neighbours to help start up with a positive idea. I draw a parallel here between both.
Arts and Culture
June 10th, 2008 / 1:10 p.m.
Denise Savoie Victoria, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians who are asking that the government rescind a provision of Bill C-10 that allows the government to censor film or video productions under some ill-defined, vague criteria. We have all heard of the impact these provisions will have on the film industry, and there are already laws that contain provisions regarding pornography, child pornography, hate propaganda and violent crime.
These Canadians are asking the government to put in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression when delivering any program intended to support film and video production in Canada.
Arts and Culture
June 10th, 2008 / 1:10 p.m.
Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by Canadians from Quebec and Ontario, all of whom are concerned about the provisions of Bill C-10 with regard to the film and video tax credit.
The petitioners demand protection for freedom of expression in Canada and call on the government to take measures to promote and not limit artistic freedom. They note their strong opposition to measures of censorship and their belief that the provisions of Bill C-10 are just that and should be rescinded.
Finally, the petitioners call for objective and transparent program guidelines that support film and video production.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 9th, 2008 / 4 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will start off by saying that the Bloc Québécois, like the official opposition, and like—I believe—the NDP, will opposed the motion by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to extend the sitting hours, for a number of reasons.
First, it is important to remember—and this was mentioned by the House leader of the official opposition—that the government and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have been completely unwilling to negotiate and cooperate. Usually, when Parliament is running smoothly, the leaders meet and agree on some priorities, some items and some ways of getting them done. But since the start of this session, or at least since September, House leaders' meetings on Tuesday afternoons have simply been meetings where we hear about a legislative agenda, which, within hours after we leave the meeting, is completely changed.
That is not how we move forward. Now the government can see that its way of doing things does not produce results. In fact, I think that this is what the government wanted in recent weeks, to prevent Parliament, the House of Commons and the various committees from working efficiently and effectively.
As I was saying, usually such motions are born out of cooperation, and are negotiated in good faith between the government and the opposition parties. But we were simply told that today a motion would be moved to extend the sitting hours, but with no information forthcoming about what the government's priorities would be through the end of this session, until June 20.
This was a very cavalier way to treat the opposition parties. And today, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Conservative government are reaping the consequences of their haughty attitude. As the saying goes, he who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind. That is exactly what has happened to the Conservatives after many weeks of acting in bad faith and failing to cooperate with the opposition parties.
In this case, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons—and earlier I mentioned his arrogance, which, to me, has reached its peak today with the way the motion was moved—gave us no indication as to his government's priorities from now until the end of the session, despite the fact that he was pointedly questioned about that matter. What we did receive was a grocery list with no order, no priorities. As the leader of the official opposition said earlier, when everything is a priority, it means that nothing is.
That is the current situation: they gave us a list of bills which, in fact, included almost all of the bills on the order paper. Not only were things not prioritized, but in addition, as I mentioned before, it showed a disregard for the opposition parties. There is a price to pay for that today—we do not see why the government needs to extend the sitting hours.
Not only was the grocery list not realistic, but also it showed that the government has absolutely no priorities set. The list includes almost all of the bills, but week after week, despite what was said during the leaders' meetings, the order of business changed. If the order of business changes at the drop of a hat, with no rhyme or reason, it means that the government does not really have priorities.
I am thinking about Bill C-50, a bill to implement the budget, which we waited on for a long time. The government is surprised that we are coming up to the end of the session and that it will be adopted in the coming hours. However, we have to remember that between the budget speech and the introduction of Bill C-50, many weeks passed that could have been spent working on the bill.
As I mentioned, the list presented to us is unrealistic. It shows the arrogance of this government, and furthermore, the order of the bills on the list is constantly changing. We feel this is a clear demonstration of this government's lack of priority.
In light of that, we can reach only one conclusion: if the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform cannot present us with his government's legislative priorities as we near the end of this session, in effect, it means that his government has no legislative priorities. It has no long-term vision. Its management is short sighted, very short sighted indeed. I would even say it is managing from one day to the next. From my perspective, this can mean only one thing: it has no legislative agenda. When we have before us bills dealing with only minor issues, this is what that means.
Proof of this lack of legislative agenda is easy to see, considering the current state of this government's agenda. An abnormally small number of bills for this time of year are currently before the House at the report stage and at third reading. Usually, if the government had planned, if it had been working in good faith and had cooperated with the opposition parties, in these last two weeks remaining before the summer recess, we should have been completing the work on any number of bills.
Overall, as we speak there are just five government bills that are ready to be debated at these stages, in other words, report stage or third reading stage. Among those, we note that Bill C-7, which is now at third reading stage, reached report stage during the first session of the 39th Parliament, in other words in June 2007. It has been brought back to us a year later. And that is a priority? What happened between June 2007 and June 2008 to prevent Bill C-7 from getting through third reading stage? In my opinion, we should indeed finish the work on Bill C-7, but this truly illustrates the government's lack of planning and organization.
As far as Bill C-5 is concerned, it was reported on by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on December 12, 2007, and voted on at report stage on May 6, 2008. Again, a great deal of time, nearly six months, went by between the tabling of the report and the vote at this stage, which was held on May 6, 2008, while the report was tabled on December 12, 2007.
All these delays of six months to a year force us to conclude that these bills are not legislative priorities to this government.
It would be great to finish the work on these four or five bills, but let us admit that we could have finished it much sooner.
This lack of legislative priority was even more apparent before question period when the House was debating second reading of Bill C-51 on food and drugs. Next on the agenda is second reading of Bill C-53 on auto theft.
If these five bills were a priority, we would finish the work. But no, what we are being presented with are bills that are only at second reading stage. This only delays further the report stage or third reading of the bills I have already mentioned. If we were serious about this, we would finish the work on bills at third reading and then move on to bills that are at second reading.
Furthermore, if its legislative agenda has moved forward at a snail's pace, the government is responsible for that and has only itself to blame, since it paralyzed the work of important committees, including the justice committee and the procedure and House affairs committee, to which several bills had been referred. And then they dare make some sort of bogus Conservative moral claim, saying that we are refusing to extend sitting hours because we do not want to work. For months and months now, opposition members, especially the Bloc Québécois, have been trying to work in committee, but the government, for partisan reasons, in order to avoid talking about the Conservative Party's problems, has been obstructing committee work.
Earlier, the NDP whip spoke about take note debates.
Once again, it is not the opposition that is refusing to work on issues that are important to Canadians and Quebeckers. Rather, it is the government that refuses to allow take note debates, because of partisan obstinacy. In that regard, we clearly see that the argument presented by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform is mere tautology or a false argument. In fact, it was the Conservative Party, the Conservative government, that slowed down the work of the House and obstructed the work of several committees.
Not only is the government incapable of planning, vision, cooperation and good faith, but furthermore, its legislative agenda is very meagre and does not in any way warrant extending the sitting hours. In addition, the Bloc Québécois sees many of the bills that are now at the bottom of the list as problematic, but if we extend the sitting hours, we will end up having to examine them.
Take Bill C-14, for example, which would permit the privatization of certain Canada Post activities. Do they really think that sitting hours will be extended to hasten debate on a bill that threatens jobs and the quality of a public service as essential as that provided by the Canada Post Corporation? That demonstrates just how detrimental the Conservatives' right-wing ideology is, not just to public services but to the economy. Everyone knows very well—there are a large number of very convincing examples globally—that privatizing postal services leads to significant price increases for consumers and a deterioration in service, particularly in rural areas.
I will give another example, that of Bill C-24, which would abolish the long gun registry even though police forces want to keep it. Once again, we have an utter contradiction. Although the government boasts of an agenda that will increase security, they are dismantling a preventtive tool welcomed by all stakeholders. They are indirectly contributing to an increase in the crime rate.
These are two examples of matters that are not in step with the government's message. It is quite clear that we are not interested in extending sitting hours to move more quickly to a debate on Bill C-24.
I must also mention bills concerning democratic reform—or pseudo-reform. In my opinion, they are the best example of the hypocrisy of this government, which introduces bills and then, in the end, makes proposals that run counter to the interests of Quebec in particular.
Take Bill C-20, for example, on the consultation of voters with respect to the pool of candidates from which the Prime Minister should choose senators. Almost all the constitutional experts who appeared before the committee currently studying Bill C-20 said that the bill would do indirectly what cannot be done directly. We know that the basic characteristics of the Senate cannot be changed without the agreement of the provinces or, at the very least, without following the rule of the majority for constitutional amendments, which requires approval by seven provinces representing 50% of the population.
Since the government knows very well that it cannot move forward with its Senate reforms, it introduced a bill that would change the essential characteristics of the Senate, something prohibited by the Constitution, on the basis of some technicalities.
It is interesting to note that even a constitutional expert who told the committee that he did not think the way the government had manipulated the bill was unconstitutional admitted that the bill would indirectly allow the government to do what it could not do directly.
They are playing with the most important democratic institutions.
A country's Constitution—and we want Quebec to have its own Constitution soon—is the fundamental text. We currently have a government, a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Government in the House of Commons who are manipulating this fundamental text— the Canadian Constitution—in favour of reforms that would satisfy their supporters in western Canada.
We do not want to rush this bill through the House by extending the sitting hours. It is the same thing for Bill C-19, which, I remind members, limits a Senator's tenure to eight years.
These two bills, Bill C-19 and Bill C-20, in their previous form, meaning before the session was prorogued in the summer of 2007, were unanimously denounced by the Quebec National Assembly, which asked that they be withdrawn. It is rather ironic that the federal government recognized the Quebec nation and then decided to introduce two bills that were denounced by the Quebec National Assembly.
I must say that the two opposition parties are opposed to Bill C-20, albeit for different reasons. Thus, I do not think it would be in the best interests of the House to rush these bills through, since we are far from reaching a consensus on them.
I have one last example, that is, Bill C-22, which aims to change the make-up of the House of Commons. If passed, it would increase the number of members in Ontario and in western Canada, which would reduce the political weight of the 75 members from Quebec, since their representation in this House would drop from 24.4% to 22.7%. It is not that we are against changing the distribution of seats based on the changing demographics of the various regions of Canada. We would like to ensure, however, that the Quebec nation, which was recognized by the House of Commons, has a voice that is strong enough to be heard.
The way things are going today, it is clear that in 10, 15 or 20 years, Quebec will no longer be able to make its voice heard in this House. We therefore believe we must guarantee the Quebec nation a percentage of the members in this House. We propose that it be 25%. If people want more members in Ontario and in the west, that is not a problem. We will simply have to increase the number of members from Quebec to maintain a proportion of 25%. There are a number of possible solutions to this.
Once again, I would like to point out that we introduced a whole series of bills to formalize the recognition of the Quebec nation, including Bill C-482, sponsored by my colleague from Drummond. That bill sought to apply the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated organizations working in Quebec. That was for organizations working in Quebec, of course. At no time did we seek to control what happens elsewhere in Canada. The bill would have given employees of federally regulated organizations the same rights as all employees in Quebec, that is, the right to work in French.
Unfortunately, the bill was defeated, but we will try again. Once again, the fact that Bill C-482 was defeated does not mean we are about to throw in the towel and let Bills C-22, C-19, and C-20 pass just like that. As I said earlier, we will certainly not make things easy for the government by rushing debate on these bills here.
And now to my fourth point. I started out talking about the government's lack of cooperation, vision and planning, not to mention its bad faith. Next, I talked about its poor excuse for a legislative agenda. Then I talked about the fact that we find certain bills extremely problematic. We will certainly not be giving the government carte blanche to bring those bills back here in a big hurry before the end of the session on June 20. Our fourth reason is the government's hypocrisy, in a general sense.
This has been apparent in many ways, such as the government's attitude to certain bills. I would like to mention some of them, such as Bill C-20. I cannot help but mention Bills C-50 and C-10 as well.
Bill C-50, the budget implementation bill, makes changes to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's powers, but that is not what the debate is about. Bill C-10, which introduces elements that allow the Conservative government—